Prescription drug use reaches record high - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Prescription drug use reaches record high

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May 14, 2008

Thomasville-- Freddie Gabriel is one of millions of Americans who has chronic health problems.  "All my life I've been in and out of the hospital."  To cope, he relies on prescription medicine.  "In the morning I take about 10. In the afternoon I take about 6 or 7."

Lisa Smith has a similar routine.  "I usually take my first round around 9 or 9:30, that's around 6 pills.  When I eat lunch I take 11 pills.  At supper I take 1, 2, 3, 4 pills.  And then I take 2 at bedtime. So I do this on a day to day basis."

The study from Medco Health reveals the data may reflect not just worsening health in Americans, but better medicine and more aggressive treatment by doctors. Al Stone, pharmacist at Thomas Drug Store agrees.  "Especially like thyroids. Big increase in the use of thyroid medication. But its not because there's more thyroid problems, they test more thoroughly and more often for it now," said Stone.

But Stone also points out more people could be put on medications because of increased tv ads for them  "Prescription drugs and telling you what they're used for. And somebody that hadn't thought anything about it says 'Well I'm going to ask my doctor about that.'"

Besides the high cost, taking so many meds can be daunting without pill boxes and precise organization.  "It'd be terrible. It'd just be terrible. You may take an overdose or you may forget that one. It is hard," said Gabriel.

Stone says a community pharmacist can often help you cut down on your number of meds.  "Everybody is a specialist and they have 2 and 3 doctors. And one doctor doesn't know what the other one is prescribing. We run across that and find some duplications and find out which one is the one they should be on," said Stone.

For many taking numerous prescriptions will always be a fact of life.  "It will be from now until,"  said Smith.   Experts say unless health management changes, in the coming years, more and more Americans will find out for themselves what life is like for people like Smith and Gabriel.

The study also showed high prescription usage in every demographic group.  It showed 1 out of every 4 children and teens, and 3 out of 4 senior citizens use medication for chronic problems.

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